Mary-Anne

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Bringing up a 'challenging' child is very tough for Carol, on her own.

Submitted: February 08, 2017

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Submitted: February 08, 2017

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Mary-Anne

 

There was no getting away from it. Being a parent, the sole parent to Mary-Anne was a challenge. Carol loved her daughter, would not be without her for anything, but she could not deny that it was a hard and often thankless task.

 

Flynn, Mary-Anne’s father, left within the first year of her life. While other parents were having to cope with sleepless nights, for the occasional week, the odd month, Mary-Anne never slept through the night, not once. And at six years old that was still something she rarely accomplished. Flynn had as much as he could stand and walked away, while Carol learnt to sleep with one eye open, constantly alert for any sound or movement.

 

Mary-Anne had what was politely referred to as ‘challenging behaviour’. She never settled down to any activity for more than half an hour but was constantly flitting from one thing to another, leaving chaos and mess behind her. Carol would try to tidy away the deserted toys behind her but Mary-Anne wanted her playing the new game and did not like to wait.

 

It was a good thing that Carol wasn’t house-proud as she lived in a state of constant turmoil. She did what she could with the housework but it was tough. When her mother came to visit Carol could sense her disapproval, her disappointment. Granny minding the baby never happened, and in some ways Carol was relieved that it didn’t. Let her mother think it was her fault; it was better than having her focus her disapproval on to Mary-Anne.

 

When Mary-Anne began school Carol thought that she would be in with a chance of catching up on herself. It never happened. Almost every day Carol found herself being called in to the school about something her daughter had done, and it was the school that had come up with the term ‘challenging behaviour’. They wanted Carol to agree to have her daughter assessed by a professional psychologist but Carol was reluctant to agree.

 

School never seemed to tire her daughter out, either. She would come home determined to play with as many different things as she would have had she been home all day. Sometimes Carol looked at Mary-Anne and thought, ‘Whirling dervish – that’s what she is.’

 

The girl did not understand the concept of danger. She did not take the slightest bit of notice of being told to be careful. Cupboards had secure locks fitted from when she was a very young age, as did the oven and the fridge. Carol locked her bedroom and the bathroom when they were not in use following an incident where she had found Mary-Anne standing with both feet inside the toilet.

 

The doors leading outside were always locked and bolted. Mary-Anne, at three years old, had let herself out of the house while Carol was having an ultra-quick shower. A helpful neighbour saved the day, sensing that the little girl should not be wandering on the busy streets alone. Now they lived in a locked-down fortress where even the windows were locked.

 

Stacy, Carol’s sister, was worried about her. A woman in her late twenties should not have to spend most her time locked in to a house with her daughter. The signs of depression were becoming too obvious to ignore and she would get Carol out of that house one way or another.

 

I can’t,” was Carol’s response when Stacy asked her to meet up for lunch at a nearby coffee bar.

 

Of course you can, Carol. We can get someone to look after her for a couple of hours, surely. You need to give yourself a break.”

 

You don’t know what she’s like, Stacy. No one is going to be able to keep up with her. And you know what she’s like with strangers.....even more stubborn than ever.” Carol wanted to go, wanted to say yes, but could see no way that she could possibly agree.

 

Sylvie will watch her for a while. Mary-Anne has met her so it won’t be the same as leaving her with a stranger. We’ll take her over to the apartment on the way. All those floors up what harm can it do, Sylvie will keep the door locked.”

 

Oh, I don’t know.....” Carol couldn’t deny that it would be nice to get out, just for a short while.

 

Stacy, sensing her resistance was weakening, took control. “You go and get changed, Sis, and I’ll get madam sorted out with a few things. And don’t worry! It’ll be fine."

 

Thirty minutes later, Carol locked the door while Mary-Anne happily danced along next to Stacy. Carol couldn’t help wondering how much her daughter had understood. She loved her aunt but was not so keen on Sylvie. It was quite possible that a real storm of a tantrum was brewing.

 

And it turned out that she was right to worry. When Mary-Anne found herself being left with Sylvie she began to howl and then to scream. Carol went to turn back but Stacy stopped her.

 

If you give in to her now she’ll just get worse. Walk away, Carol! What harm do you think she’s going to come to. The door is locked. You heard it yourself.”

 

Carol tried to relax. She tired to join in with the gossip but she had been so left out of things, had fallen out of contact with all their mutual friends. For Stacy she made an effort but she could not hide how worried she was, how nervous she was feeling. When stacy’s mobile rang she almost shot out of her seat.

 

“She's what? She can't have, Sylvie.There's nowhere she could have gone, is there, so look again.”

 

Carol was already standing, ready to make her way to the door, when Stacy finished the call. “I knew it was a mistake. I should never have left her.”

 

As they approached the apartment block they found that there was quite a crowd gathering on the side-walk. They all seemed to be focussing their gaze upwards. The two sisters looked upwards and neither of them could believe what they were seeing. There were thick cables going from one block to another and climbing along one of those cables could be seen a figure. A small figure that looked vaguely familiar.

 

Mary-Anne,” gasped Carol, and began running, with her sister at her heels.

 

Sylvie opened the apartment door, saying, “I’m sorry, Stace, I’ve not.....”

 

She was cut off mid-sentence as Carol then Stacy pushed past her into Sylvie’s bedroom. The window was wide open. Carol shut her eyes for a second, then made her way across the room. There was Mary-Anne, in her black coat, her pink boots and her red gloves, happily moving further away.

 

What was she going to do? She couldn’t shout as that might scare her daughter, cause her to slip. Carol was vaguely aware that her sister was on the phone but all her attention was focussed on the young girl dangling dangerously in the sky.

 

Mary-Anne,” she called softly. Then again, slightly louder this time. When the girl turned her face towards her, Carol carried on talking. “What are you doing out there, eh? Come back here and we’ll go and get a pizza!”

 

Mommy! Look at me! I’m in the circus!”

 

To Carol’s horror, her daughter began bouncing gently on the cable. She struggled to keep the panic from her voice as she said, “Well, if you don’t want to come I’ll just go by myself.”

 

No, Mommy. You can’t leave me! Wait.”

 

And the small figure began to shuffle backwards, remarkably quickly considering the risk. She almost slipped. One foot, one leg, came off the wire, but the girl hung on, righted herself and made it far enough back for Carol to reach out, grab her and lift her back in.

 

What on earth were you doing?” Stacy was almost shouting, but Carol shook her head. She put her arms around her daughter and lifted her up so that they were face to face. “Mary-Anne, you must promise Mommy never to do anything like that again.”

 

Never?”

 

Never, ever.”

 

But I was only playing, walking along the rope like they do in the circus. I was going to let go with my hands once I’d got my balance.”

 

Carol shuddered. She had quite a clear picture in her mind of the consequences that would have led to. “Go pack your stuff up, quickly now. That pizza with our names on it is waiting and we don’t want someone else eating it, do we?”

 

While Mary-Anne was gathering her toys together, Carol turned her attention to Stacy and Sylvie. Sylvie was shocked, sobbing, waiting for the verbal attack she was sure Carol was going to launch against her. Stacy was trying to comfort her flat-mate, putting herself between the two women.

 

But Carol did not shout, she did not even criticize. “Don’t blame yourself, Sylvie. You had no idea what you were letting yourself in for.” Perhaps it was from a sense of relief but Carol found that she had tears running down her cheeks. She wiped them away. “It’s over now. No harm done.”

 

Pizza, Mommy. Come on!” Mary-Anne dashed up and grabbed hold of her mother’s hand, dragging her towards the door.

 

Carol looked at Sylvie, at Stacy, and gave a sad smile. “At least we tried. Come round later in the week if you like.” Then she held her daughter back from the door for a moment. “Mary-Anne, where are your manners? Say goodbye and thank you.”

 

Goodbye and thank you, Aunty S. and S.” Then the girl disappeared through the door pulling her mother behind her. And Carol knew that she was not likely to leave their fortess again, any time soon.


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